The establishment of The Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation

The Foundation was established in November 1984 through a grant by the Nippon Foundation (then Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation). The initiative was taken by Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, then trustee of the Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation and supported by Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa, the chairman. The donation and its purpose were introduced to the Nordic countries through official diplomatic channels and welcomed by the government in each country. Prime minister Olof Palme, whose independent expert committee for disarmament and peace (Palmekommissionen) had received economic support from The Nippon Foundation (then Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation), received Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa in connection with the inauguration of the SJSF. Ambassador Gunnar Jarring assumed the role as the first chairman of the Foundation. The SJSF is a Swedish foundation subject to Swedish law and supervision. Its Board is composed of representatives from the five Nordic countries and Japan.

The Nippon Foundation

The Nippon Foundation was established by Ryoichi Sasakawa in 1962 as the Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, to promote the reconstruction of postwar Japan through the development of the shipbuilding and shipping industries. Over the years, the Foundation’s activities in Japan expanded to include projects that support health and hygiene, and firefighting and disaster preparedness. The Foundation also became active in areas including food security in Africa and the elimination of leprosy, and continue to engage in these activities today.

In December 1995, author and philanthropist Ayako Sono succeeded Mr. Sasakawa as the Foundation’s second chair. At that time, the Foundation’s primary activities were supporting grassroots volunteer groups and NGOs, which had just begun to develop in Japan in the wake of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995. The Foundation also began working to ensure inclusive communities through improved social welfare services for older persons and activities to empower persons with disabilities.

In keeping with The Nippon Foundation’s original focus on ocean-related issues, projects to maintain navigational safety in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, and fellowship programs to cultivate leaders in ocean-related fields, were expanded.

In July 2005, following Ms. Sono’s retirement at the end of her term, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, then serving as president, assumed the position of chair.

Continuing its humanitarian and maritime projects, The Nippon Foundation is also taking up new challenges in promoting social innovation. The Foundation is working together with various stakeholders to formulate the multifaceted approaches required to address increasingly complex global issues.

The Nippon Foundation’s fields of activity are introduced in the following pages.